[b-hebrew] Hebrew as a spoken language

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Thu Oct 25 13:34:34 EDT 2007


On 10/25/07, Uri Hurwitz <uhurwitz at yahoo.com> wrote:
>   Karl,
>     Not all can agree to your statement:
You too?

Please reread carefully what I wrote:

>   "The last generation that we can all agree on that learned Biblical
> Hebrew at their mothers' knees was the first generation born during
> the Exile"....
The emphasis here, in context, is on the "we". We all can agree that
the first generation born during the Exile learned Biblical Hebrew at
their mothers' knees. But what about the second generation? Third
generation, the one that returned to Judea, some brought back by their

> Karl W. Randolph."
>     Keep in mind just two facts: not all the  Northern and Judean
>    populations were exiled; secondly, the Hebrew the residents spoke
>   underwent marked changes - under various influences - and became
>   the "Mishnaic" language. The latter simply could not have been
>   an artifical invention by scholars, devised only to be written.
First of all, the historical record is that the totality of the Judean
population was removed, some as captives, some willingly.

Secondly, what was the status of Hebrew after the Exile? There is some
evidence that it had the same status as did Latin later in Europe: it
was the language of law, trade, religion, high literature, spoken
fluently by millions though none learned it at his mother's knee.
Because it was spoken fluently by millions, Latin continued to develop
and change. Did Hebrew share the same dynamic, or was it still learned
at home? The evidence is too sparse either way to be convincing.

>     True, in the second Temple period and later both Aramaic and
>   Greek became more and more spoken, but Hebrew was still in use.,
>   (Cf. the Bar Kokhba letters), though it became rarer.
>     In fact, the houshold of Yehuda the Prince, the redactor of the
>   Mishnah, c 200 CE was praised in that "even the maid" spoke
>    Hebrew.
Are the two paragraphs above not evidence that Hebrew was the "Latin"
of its time and place?

Even my question is indicative that the evidence is too sparse. And
because the evidence is so sparse and apparently contradictory, can we
ever come to a resolution of the question?

>     Uri
>     BTW my remarks above are general. I didn't mean to discuss
>   the date of Daniel.
That's cool. I won't either.

Karl W. Randolph.

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